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How do Transponder Keys Work?

Car keys that incorporate transponder technology have been included with most new cars bought after 1995.

The transponder technology was specifically designed to make the stealing of cars a lot less easy, and has been shown to be relatively successful.

Of course, though, this technology does not ensure that your car is completely safe, as criminals are also inventive and have found other ways to profit from cars such as:

  • Towing the vehicle and using it for parts replacements
  • Bypassing the transponder
  • Re-programming the transponder

However, all of these initiatives are far more complicated than just the old fashioned thieving of cars used to be, and so incidents of car theft have still been greatly reduced. Therefore, many manufacturers continue to use them.

The word transponder is a combination of transmitter and responder, and is the word used for the computer chip which manufacturers place in the plastic head of their car keys. Once the key is placed in the transmission and is turned to start the engine, the car sends a signal to the transponder which must return the correct programmed response, in order for the car to start.

This transponder technology is the same that is used in the remote devices that many modern cars come complete with. The only difference is that the transponder on these types is located inside the remote, which is usually attached to the key. With a remote, the car responds to it from a distance, whereas with a key with the transponder in the head, the car only responds as the key is actually turned in the ignition.

Most locksmiths have the necessary machinery and knowledge, to be able to change the programming on a transponder.  Locksmiths are often far cheaper than the price you would be charged by a dealership, which uses the same machinery and knowledge.